TITLE: Sometimes, Normal is Very Good
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: May 30, 2006 10:27 AM
Last week, I ran 38 miles. In most respects, that
is hardly remarkable. I ran 41 miles or more most
weeks of 2005, and 38 miles was my usual week for
most of 2004. But I hadn't had a normal running
week since at least the middle of March, and I have
to go back late February to find more than a week
of normalcy. The culprits were manifold: trips to
the long-lasting bugs that I brought home with me
from each; and a
pair of pesky hamstrings.
Hence my happiness at having a merely ordinary week,
one in which all I managed to do was to run my ordinary
mileage every day in unremarkable times.
All winter, I seemed to be running a bit slower and
more labored than I expected. In retrospect, this
was probably a symptom of the overuse that eventual
hammered my hamstrings. Last week's running may have
been unremarkable in the grand scheme of things, but
in context it offered one piece of hope: I ran 20 km
(12.4 miles) for my long Sunday run in only 1:42.
I wasn't trying to run faster than I've been running;
the speed came naturally. I even managed a 7:56 mile
near the end of the run. And the hamstrings felt fine.
I started this week with a 5-miler this morning, and
it offered another sign that I am close to normal.
Without any particular effort to go fast, I had my
best time on the route in many months, probably since
Uncharacteristic patience has paid off for me over the
last couple of months. I tend to rush back into my
regular miles and speeds as soon as I think I can, but
with so many different problem areas I found myself
able to hold back, taking it easy some days and off on
others. I may have taken it even easier when the
hamstrings began to give me trouble; those muscles have
definitely taught me to respect their power.
I sometimes feel guilty talking about the "struggle" to
get back to a comfortable level after only eight or ten
weeks of falling off pace. My wife has been trying to
get back into a running routine after a few years away,
and that has been much more of a challenge than what I
have experienced. A friend recently told me that he had
taken up a simple running program for the first time.
These two are doing a good thing for their bodies (and
minds), but there are days when starting from scratch
must seem pretty daunting. The fact that these folks
can stick with forming a new habit and training their
bodies makes me realize that I'm in a pretty good place;
my expectations are more of a problem than my body or
Anyway, I am going to try for one more week of the very
good usual, with no particular concern for speed or
hills or intervals. Then I hope to spend a couple of
weeks getting ready for our local half-marathon on June
25, not as a race with expectations of blowing away my
PR but as a training run that shows I am ready for what
comes next: training for the Twin Cities Marathon. For
now, I will enjoy the usual, more than usual.